Crestview head coach Jeremy Best celebrates after the final seconds ticked off Friday night. (DHI Media/ Pat Agler)
Crestview head coach Jeremy Best celebrates after the final seconds ticked off Friday night. (DHI Media/ Pat Agler)
ELIDA — Almost one year ago on the dot, Javin Etzler nailed a three from the top of the key to save the Crestview Knights’ season. Friday night, in the exact same spot as he did the year before, Etzler drained a triple to send the District Final match up between the Knights and Kalida into a second overtime. The Knights then out scored Kalida in the second OT to punch their ticket to the Stroh Center in Bowling Green next week beating the Wildcats 61-58.

“I guess they should just write my name right there with a sharpie,” said the elated senior Javin Etzler, pointing to the spot on the floor where he made game saving shots in back-to-back seasons.

Kalida had their first and only lead of the game starting with 38 seconds to go in the first overtime. Trevor Lambert sank both ends of a one and one to put the Wildcats up, 52-51. Crestview ran a play that saw sharpshooting Derick Dealey get the nod on a shot from the right wing, the ball ricocheted off the iron into Etzler’s hands who then missed an attempt.

Lambert was fouled again, this time with 7.6 seconds remaining. Crestview head coach Jeremy Best used his last time out on the previous possession, so the Knights would have to run a play on the fly. Lambert sank both free-throws to give the Wildcats a three point lead.

Kline took the in bounds pass from Dealey, and dribbled up the court. Etzler, waiting in the corner near the baseline on the right side of the floor started working his way towards the top of the key. Kline met Etzler, handed off the ball and set a body pick on the defender. Etzler took one dribble towards the top of the key, rocked back on his left leg and fired the game saving shot— you know the rest.

All the momentum that the Kalida had been rocking for the last twenty minutes had vanished, as the Crestview fans went ballistic along with the Knights on the bench who rushed the court to meet Etzler.

“When the ball is in [Etzler’s] hands, that’s what we want,” said Jeremy Best on his star senior’s shot.

The thing that might have been forgotten in the crowd, was that the game wasn’t over yet. That was just the first overtime, there was still one more to be played.

Luckily for the Knights they have Drew Kline, who’s competitiveness has been talked about at great length by Crestview coaches Jeremy Best and Jared Owens alike.

“[Kline] said after the first overtime that we aren’t losing this game,” said Best on his point guard. “And by gosh, they didn’t.”

From the get-go Kline set the tempo for the Knights in the final overtime. His patented slipperiness let him by pass a defender and get to the hoop for a lay up. He then turned around on defense and picked Grant Laudick’s pocket. Kline took the steal, and then was fouled on his lay up attempt. The Knights never once gave up the lead again.

Kalida got the ball, down three with under a minute to go and called a time out. The Wildcats ran offense for nearly 40 seconds without one potential good look. Kalida’s head coach Ryan Stechschulte called his team together one more time to set up a play. 13 ticks went off the clock and the Wildcats didn’t get a single shot off.

“[Crestview] clamped us down,” said Stechschulte. “Our point guard fouled out. Him fouling out got us all out of sorts.”

Stetchshulte said that the Wildcats drew up a play but the Knights defense defended it too well.

Though this District Final matchup needed two overtimes to decide a winner, it wasn’t always heading that way.

There was three minutes left in regulation, and the game looked in the bag for the highly touted team from Convoy. Crestview was up 42-29, then Kalida struck red hot. Nearly every time down the floor had the same result— a Wildcat 3-pointer. With each shot hitting nylon the roars from the south side of the Elida Field House grew, as just as the team did, the fans never once loss faith.

Kalida hit five 3-pointers in the final three minutes of regulation, each inching them closer to tying the game up until Trevor Lambert finally did it. Luke Erhart hit two triples, while Lambert, Grant Laudick and Gabe Hovest all hit one as well. This was at the same time that Crestview was missing all their bonus free-throw opportunities.

Kalida started the season slow, but have lost just one game in 2019 until Friday night. It was also a double-OT matchup, but instead, against Van Wert over a month ago. Since then Kalida had been playing red hot, including a tremendous comeback against Parkway in the Sectional Finals.

“We never quit, that’s been our M.O. all year,” said Stechschulte. “I told that guys that we had a lot of reasons to just kind of bag the season. We had a lot of expectations, then we start 1-2, then to 5-4. The seniors pulled us together and we played great basketball from January on.”

“I think we are as good as anyone in the state and we proved it tonight,” finished the Wildcats’ head coach.

Crestview led for all of the contest except for 38 seconds, which was summed up best by Coach Best when he said, “basketball is so bizarre.”

With the win the Knights punch their ticket to Regionals which start on Tuesday in Bowling Green. Two of the other District winners Crestview has already beat including co-NWC champs Columbus Grove and also Hicksville (which was the team that Crestview beat last year in the District finals thanks to Javin Etzler’s game winner).

The Knights will play Hicksville starting at 8 p.m. at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green.

Crestview will be selling pre-sale tickets for the game. Sunday from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. immediate families of players, cheerleaders, managers, statisticians and coaches may buy tickets at the high school by entering through door #3. The following half hour students, Knight Pride Members, reserved seat ticket holders, faculty and staff may purchase tickets in the same location. Monday and Tuesday tickets will be sold from 7:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m to the general public in the athletic office. Tickets are $7.

***

Kalida (58)

Luke Erhart 22 pts, 10 reb, 4 ast; Trevor Lambert 13 pts, 5 reb, 1 ast; Owen Recekr 6 pts, 3 reb, 7 ast; Evan Roebke 5 pts, 3 reb, 1 ast; Grant Laudick 5 pts, 3 reb; Gabe Hovest 5 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast; Zach Vonderembs 2 pts

Crestview (61)

Javin Etzler 17 pts, 7 reb, 1 ast; Kalen Etzler 14 pts, 10 reb, 2 ast; Drew Kline 13 pts, 3 reb, 5 ast; Wade Sheets 9 pts, 4 reb; Derick Dealey 7 pts, 3 reb, 1 ast; Colton Lauztenheiser

Wildcats 9 8 8 21 8 4 (58)

Knights 15 9 12 10 8 7 (61)